Don Lemon returned to his anchor desk on CNN Tuesday night delivering an emotional thank you to his viewers and friends.
Lemon, who wiped away tears as he struggled to get through the start of his broadcast, thanked many colleagues for their outpouring of support after his beloved sister Leisa Lemon Grimes, died at 58-years-old.
First off, many of you have noticed that I have not been here,” he began. “My older sister died unexpectedly last week and I am back sitting with you tonight because this is exactly where she would have wanted me to be.” Lemon, 51, started off his broadcast. ‘Leisa was so proud of me.’
‘I want all of you to know that your prayers and words of encouragement have really meant the world to me and my family over the last few days. So many of you have reached out to me, I can’t respond to all of them.’
“There’s so much conflict happening right now, I think it’s important for all Americans to know that when something like this happens, it tends to bring out the best in people. Some of my competitors, people I have raging arguments with on television — you think we hate each other, but we don’t,” he said.
Lemon thanked a slew of fellow hosts who offered their support and condolences including Sean Hannity, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, Megyn Kelly, Joy Reid, Wendy Williams, Tamron Hall, Corey Booker, among others.
Lemon said he received the devastating news while he was at the CNN studios, and got particularly emotional thanking CNN’s president Jeff Zucker- who he said would not leave his office until Lemon left.
He also thanked his longtime partner, Tim Malone, who sprang onto a plane and waited in his mother’s driveway for hours until Lemon arrived.
Grimes drowned in Denham Springs, just outside of Baton Rouge, this past Wednesday.
The Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office is treating her death as an accident, and they do not suspect foul play.
‘Thanks everyone for your words of sympathy. Please keep my family in your prayers. Leisa was my oldest sister & partner in crime growing up. Always had my back. #RIPbigSis,’ Lemon tweeted alongside a photo of his sister as news of her death broke.
CNN had also released a statement on behalf of Lemon’s family.
‘The Lemon/Grimes family would like to thank everyone for their condolences and prayers at this time,’ the family said.
‘Our family has suffered the tragic loss of L’Tanya ‘Leisa’ Lemon Grimes and we are leaning on each other for strength at this time. We appreciate privacy as we grieve the loss of our loved one.’
Police were called to the scene at about 4pm following reports a woman had fallen into a neighborhood pond.
It appears that Grimes may have tripped and fallen into the water while fishing.